Fri 28 Jul 2023

Employment Law Round Up - August 2023

Our monthly employment law round up.

ACAS consulting on updated Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working

ACAS are consulting on an updated Code of Practice on handling workplace flexible working requests.  The draft Code is available here and the consultation can be responded to here.  The Code is being updated to reflect (1) the reforms to legislation which are due to come into force next year, and (2) the significant shift towards flexible working in the workplace and the changing views on it since the existing Code was published in 2014.  The non-statutory guidance that accompanies the Code is also to be updated.

44% of those going through menopause remain silent

Despite the recent drive to raise awareness around the difficulties encountered by those going through menopause in the workplace, a recent study has found that 44% of those going through it chose to remain silent about it for fear of it negatively impacting their career.  Nearly half of respondents to the survey would lie about why they needed time off rather than admit it was to manage menopausal symptoms.  Employers are encouraged to provide training and education to raise awareness and foster a supportive work environment.

UK Government response to mandatory ethnicity pay reporting consultation published

The UK Government's response to the 2018 consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay reporting has been published.  The document confirms that mandatory reporting will not be introduced, as had already been set out in last year's, "Inclusive Britain" strategy document.  However, the decision not to introduce the reporting is termed as being not "at this stage" so this may well not be the last word on the matter.  In the meantime employers can continue to report voluntarily and make use of the ethnicity pay reporting: guidance for employers.

Great big workplace adjustments survey 2023

The Business Disability Forum have published the Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey 2023 and corresponding Recommendations for employers.  The survey looks at the extent to which the needs of disabled employees are being met and how well they can be themselves in today's workplaces.  Headline points include that disability passports have been found not to improve the experience of disability inclusion or getting reasonable adjustments; disabled employees are waiting too long for adjustments and 56% of respondents said they continued to face disability related barriers even after adjustments were made.  Only 22% of disabled employees and 25% of managers thought occupational health helped disabilities to be managed at work and bullying and harassment of disabled employees remains a problem.

CIPD publish guidance on supporting employees facing fertility issues

The CIPD have recently published a guide to offering workplace support to employees suffering fertility challenges.  The guide draws on survey findings and wider research and provides practical ideas for developing workplace support for employees.  It is structured around five principles of good practice to help employers develop the support that would be most helpful to their employees:-

  • Raising awareness of fertility challenges as a workplace wellbeing issue
  • Creating an open, inclusive and supportive culture
  • Developing an organisational framework to support employees
  • Managing absence and leave with compassion and flexibility
  • Equipping line managers to support employees with empathy and understanding

Employee mental health affected by cost of living crisis

A recent survey commissioned by ACAS has found that 47% of employee respondents say their mental health has been detrimentally impacted by the cost of living crisis to either a moderate or significant degree.  Financial wellbeing has been a concern for some time, with organisations such as ACAS and the CIPD recommending employers put more focus on this area.  For tips on how employers can help support employees, see our blog How can employers help with the cost of living crisis?.

ACAS publish new whistleblowing guidance

ACAS have published new guidance (available here) on whistleblowing in the workplace.  As you would expect from Acas it is easy to read and understand and covers all the essential information including:-

  • Who is protected by law when making a whistleblowing disclosure
  • What someone can blow the whistle about
  • How to make a whistleblowing disclosure
  • How to respond to a whistleblowing disclosure
  • The benefits of having a whistleblowing policy and what it should include

Survey highlights workers unaware of risks of using AI

Deloitte's annual survey of digital behaviours in the UK has highlighted that many workers hold misconceptions about the accuracy of answers provided by generative AI.  43% of those using it for work purposes believed it always produced factually accurate answers while 38% thought that answers were always unbiased.  That translates to somewhere between one and two million users not realising the risks involved in using generative AI in the workplace.  Nearly two thirds of respondents expected the technology to reduce the number of available jobs in the future.

Report on why women leave workforce early

A report examining factors relevant to women leaving the workforce early has been published by the British Standards Institute.  Respondents to the survey informing the report were from the USA, Australia, China and Japan as well as the UK.  Reasons cited by the UK respondents included caring responsibilities (children and parents) and health and wellbeing considerations related to the menopause.  Over 70% of respondents said formal policies addressing these and other similar issues would be helpful.  Recommendations for employers included opening dialogues with women, provision of support and offering flexibility in work arrangements.

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